IntroductionWilliam & Mary is committed to providing an environment where all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect. The Office of Compliance & Equity is responsible for preventing, detecting and responding to complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
What is discrimination & harassment?When someone is treated differently because of irrelevant personal factors, which are unrelated to qualifications or performance, it may be discrimination. Irrelevant personal factors include (without limitation) race, color, citizenship, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, creed, political affiliation or belief, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, marital status, pregnancy, parental status, height, weight, military service, veteran status, caretaker status or family medical or genetic information. There are several forms of discrimination:
• Disparate treatment—differing treatment in terms and conditions of employment (e.g. excessive or more supervision of you than others; requiring documentation of telecommute hours or sick leave when others similarly situated are not required to provide documentation)
• Disparate Impact—employment practice that results in unintended discrimination of a protected class (e.g. a department policy in facilities management that any head coverings must bear the William & Mary logo could certain religious practices/beliefs)
• Harassment—unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy) national origin, age, disability or genetic information. (e.g. constant belittling, public criticism, threatening adverse employment action, sexual advances, racist jokes, derogatory remarks about sexual orientation, anti-Semitic imagery hanging in the office).
What is retaliation?Retaliation is adverse action taken against a person for engaging in protected activity. Types of protected activity include:
• Making a complaint of discrimination or harassment
• Reporting suspected misconduct (fraud, conflict of interest, etc.)
• Cooperating in an investigation
• Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
• Resisting sexual advances
• Requesting an accommodation of a disability
WILLIAM & MARY STRICTLY PROHIBITS RETALIATION.
Engaging in protected activity, however, does not shield an employee from all personnel actions which may include performance management, discipline or discharge. For example, an employee who files a complaint and is subsequently 30 minutes late to work multiple days a week may be disciplined for the behavior. Retaliation occurs when the employee who files a complaint has habitually been late to work by 5-10 minutes for the past two years and never been reprimanded for it. Now, after a compliant has been filed, the supervisor wants to impose discipline against the employee for tardiness.
**Retaliation occurs when you experience materially adverse action that is a result of you engaging in a protected activity.**
What if the harassing conduct is not based on a protected trait?Behaviors that are unprofessional, uncivilized, threatening, intimating, or meant to humiliate can feel hostile, make someone uncomfortable, and make the work environment unbearable. This conduct is not necessarily discrimination. Unprofessional or condescending conduct may be related to an individual’s personality and/or the conduct may be directed to everyone generally, rather than a selected class of individuals. Unprofessional and uncivilized behavior can and should be addressed by management. It is important for reporting parties to understand that management cannot always share the outcome of how the behaviors were addressed.
Individuals who speak with supervisors about a colleague’s conduct or who speak to Human Resources about a manager’s lack of effective communication are protected from retaliation.
You have options for raising concerns about non-discriminatory behaviors that are inappropriate, antagonistic, or threatening:
• Speak directly to the Individual—if you feel comfortable, it is sometimes best to address your concerns and perspectives of the inappropriate behavior directly with the individual first. If the individual is your supervisor, you may request that someone accompany you when you speak with him or her.
• Supervisor—Employees may raise concerns with supervisors or second level supervisors to address unacceptable or uncivilized conduct.
• University Ombuds—the Ombuds serves as an informal resource for all employees seeking assistance with workplace concerns. This is a
• Employee Relations—this HR specialist provides guidance, counseling and assistance to employees who are experiencing conflict or issues in the workplace. The Employee Relations Director can also help employees through the Commonwealth’s Grievance Procedure or refer employees to alternate dispute resolution programs such as mediation.
• William & Mary Police Department—Behavior that involves physical force that is intended to hurt someone or damage something or language or behaviors that (1) threatens physical injury to another or intentional damage to property and has the effect of intimidating, frightening , coercing or provoking others should be reported to the WMPD.
What happens if I file a complaint that I want investigated?• The Office of Compliance & Equity team will conduct an initial assessment of the report to determine if a compliance issue is raised or if the matter should be referred to another department (such as Employee Relations).
• If the Compliance Team determines that the matter alleges discrimination, harassment or retaliation, the Review Team, composed of OCE representative(s), Human Resources representative(s) and William & Mary Police Department representative(s) will evaluate the complaint and may recommend investigation, which will be conducted according to the Employee Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Compliant Procedure.
• The Office of Compliance & Equity will email you to communicate if the matter was referred elsewhere or if an investigation has been authorized or not.
Important Contact Information
Office of Compliance & Equity
Chief Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator
Deputy Compliance Officer/ADA Coordinator
University Ombuds Office
Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary Police Department